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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Zucchini Cheddar Bread

Zucchini Cheddar Bread
Happy National Zucchini Day! With zucchini madness in full effect right now, I'm constantly on the hunt for new and exciting ways to use zucchini. As much as I love a good zucchini quick bread, after already making four loaves in the past couple of weeks, I decided to incorporate zucchini into a savory yeasted loaf. Three loaves, actually.

You may remember last November when I shared this Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread as part of the Three Loaves Movement. Three Loaves encourages the use of sustainable and seasonal ingredients, and I can't think of anything more appropriate to the season than zucchini!

One loaf for my family. One loaf for a friend. One for someone in need. This recipe makes three large free-form loaves—as in, 2 pounds each. While it tastes delicious alone, it's pretty darn tasty toasted, as the bread for a grilled cheese sandwich, and alongside a nice brothy bowl of soup.

Zucchini Cheddar Bread
If the large recipe seems too daunting, go ahead and cut it in half—you can still make three loaves. One pound of dough fits perfectly into an 8" x 4" loaf tin. Also, if  you aren't ready to bake them all at once, you can store extra dough in the fridge for 24-48 hours before giving it a final rise and baking it.

So what do you say, are  you ready to clear out a couple of the zucchini taking up valuable counter space?

Zucchini Cheddar Bread
Use up some of your abundant summer zucchini in this savory zucchini cheddar yeast bread recipe.
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Zucchini Cheddar Bread
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 3 hours (largely unattended)
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: bake bread vegetarian soy-free nut-free American summer zucchini cheese

Ingredients (3 large loaves or 6 small loaves)
  • 4 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water (110˚ F)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 (7 grams each) packets instant yeast
  • 5 cups (650 grams) bread flour + more for work surface
  • 4 cups (520 grams) white whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded + more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
Put the shredded zucchini into a wire-mesh strainer and press down to release as much of the excess liquid as possible; set zucchini aside for the moment.

Combine water, honey, and yeast in a large bowl and stir to combine. Let sit until frothy, 5 minutes.
In the meantime toss the shredded zucchini and cheese with the bread flour. Add to the bowl with the frothy yeast, along with the oil and salt. Using a large wooden spoon, stir until everything comes together. Add the whole wheat flour and stir until you can't stir any longer; turn out onto a well-floured work surface and knead until soft and tacky, ~15 minutes, adding more flour to your work surface as needed to keep from sticking. (You'll need another 2 cups of flour for your work surface, give or take, depending on how well your zucchini was squeezed.)

Form the dough into a bowl, then place in a lightly oiled extra-large bowl or bucket. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, 60-90 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times, then divide into 3 equal pieces (about 2 pounds each). Pat each peach of dough out into a long oval, then starting at a short edge, roll into a loaf. Set 1 or 2 loaves on a parchment covered baking sheet and drape loosely with plastic wrap; let rise at room temperature for about 45-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425˚ F during the last 15 minutes of rise time.

Remove plastic wrap. Brush the top of each loaf with a thin coat of egg white, then scatter some extra shredded cheese over the top. Use a lame or serrated knife to cut a few slashes in the top of each loaf.

Slide the loaves into the preheated oven, mist 12 times with water to create steam, then quickly close the oven door. Bake for 10 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 375˚ F. Bake 30 minutes longer, until golden, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the loaves registers at least 190˚ F.

Set loaves on a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

If you do not want to bake all three loaves at once, after you've formed them into loaves, you can set them on individual pieces of parchment paper, then slide them into freezer-safe gallon-sized baggies. Freeze the individual loaf portions of dough. Transfer the frozen baggie of dough to the refrigerator the night before you want to bake it to thaw. Remove the dough from the baggie, parchment and all, and set on a baking sheet for 1-2 hours before baking as directed.

You could also divide the risen dough into six 1-pound pieces. Form each loaf in the same manner, then place them into greased 8" x 4" loaf tins. Finish as directed. Tip out of tin and cool loaves on wire rack.

This recipe halves well.
Zucchini Cheddar Bread

That is the premise of the Three Loaves Movement, the brainchild of Jerry of Cooking Stoned. Inspired by his 2010 participation in the Yahoo!'s Ripple of Kindness project, Jerry kicked off this movement in which food is a form of activism. The challenge, for all who are willing to accept it, is to bake three loaves of bread a month (aka one for you, one for a friend, and one for someone in need) that feature sustainable and seasonal ingredients.

Join the Three Loaves movement and help kick hunger’s ass.

Follow Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez's board Zucchini Madness! on Pinterest.